The Difficult Autistic Child and Delayed Adoption: Can You Do It?
My friends have an autistic child they cannot handle. She asked me, “Can I give my autistic child up for adoption?” There isn’t a parent on this earth that doesn’t think to themselves, “Is it too late to give my child up for adoption?”, especially when they have just gone through a really horrible day with their kids. Although it may be a fantasy for some, for a few parents who have children on the spectrum, it seems like the best idea ever. Unfortunately, there are some legal barriers to adoption once your child is way past the five-day-old mark. There are alternatives instead, but none of them may be what you would consider responsible or compassionate, so be careful about what you decide to do.
Option number one is probably the least favored of all, because it makes you look like an unfit parent and because the county in which you live will try to get you to surrender custody of your other children as well. In this option, you contact your local Human Services Department and inform them you want to surrender all parental rights to your child with autism. They will want to know why, try to schedule a home visit, and go out of their way to help you keep your child at home. If you are absolutely adamant that you need to give him or her up, then you have to go through a lengthy court process that severs all ties you have with your autistic child. You will never be allowed to see him or her again, but you will also never have to worry about how to manage him or her or take care of him/her. It is not a pretty way to handle your situation, and it is one you would eventually and deeply regret.
Option number two allows you to retain your parental rights to your child, but your child is then placed in a group home with other children like him or her. The majority of challenges you presently face you leave with better trained staff and nurses, while affording you the ability to have your son or daughter come home to visit once in a while or you can visit him/her at the group home. It relieves a lot of the emotional and physical burdens you presently feel while placing your child in what you know is a very safe environment for him or her.
Option number three is to ask a close, trusted friend or another family member to take full guardianship of your child. This is like adoption in that this friend or family member legally agrees to take over for you and takes full parental responsibility. This is done more often when a parent is a recovering alcoholic or drug addict and knows he/she cannot take care of a child on the spectrum until long after he/she has been through detox and rehab. However, extenuating circumstances can and do allow for perfectly healthy parents to grant full legal custody of their children to another family member.